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Johnny Firecloud/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Johnny Firecloud

In this Indiansploitation classic, Victor Mohica (a dead ringer for Anton Chigurh from No Country For Old Men) stars in the title role. We are introduced to the Native-American Johnny Firecloud (named after an atomic bomb) as he drives through his Western hick town. He's soon pulled over by Jesse (The St. Valentine's Day Massacre's David Canary), the local sheriff/bully who clearly holds him in contempt. Johnny is a Vietnam vet but isn't respected at all, which certainly reflects America's temperment towards soldiers in the early 70s.

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Since returning from the Nam, Johnny has lived with his elderly burnout grandfather Chief White Eagle (Frank DeKova) who spends his time hanging around the town bar. When Johnny arrives to pick him up one night, he finds the locals abusing the old man. Johnny goes berzerk taking out all the whiskey soaked dopes with his fearsome flying fists and karate kicks. Johnny doesn't let these guys push him around and upholds his honor.

We learn that Johnny only came back home because of his estranged lover, June Colby (Christina Hart) a pretty little thing who just happens to be the daughter of an evil rancher (The Dirty Dozen's Ralph Meeker) that is swiping every bit of land from the native American people in the area.

One day Colby's men whip and beat Johnny and he is jailed by Jesse. Then they publicly lynch Chief White Eagle which only increases Johnny's rage. The beautiful Sacheen Littlefeather (who most film fans will recognize as the woman who accepted Marlon Brando's Oscar in 1972) plays Johnny's friend Nenya, a kindhearted schoolteacher who is brutally raped by Colby's gang of bigot bastards. After the men leave the scene, Johnny discovers her bloodied half naked body and she dies.

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Johnny then vows to get revenge for his grandfather and Nenya's murders and this is when the film really goes into full Exploitation mode. He turns judge, jury and executioner, methodically attacking all the men, using torturous methods inspired by his Indian heritage. Colby, Jesse and the others try to stop Johnny, but his wrath is just too powerful.

Johnny Firecloud was distributed by 20th Century Fox, but it definitely plays like a low budget independent B-movie. To me this adds another special element to the film. You get the big Hollywood studio opening fanfare then a crazy little 99 minute exploitation film that was perfect for the grindhouse and drive-in crowds of 1975.

If you like Johnny Firecloud I also recommend Billy Jack and Sergio Corbucci's Navajo Joe starring Burt Reynolds.

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Peter Roberts is the co-founder/editor-in-chief of the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb) and contributor to the GCDb's sister site Furious Cinema. He is an avid film fan that has been immersed in the world of entertainment and pop culture his entire life.
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